Tobacco smoking a leading health risk among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Tackling Indigenous Smoking Resource and Information Centre
By
Millie Harford-Mills
Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
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Tobacco smoking among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is of particular concern, and is the leading risk factor contributing to the health gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people. Figures from the Australian Burden of Disease Study released in 2016 show tobacco smoking as being responsible for 23 per cent of this gap. Specifically, rural and remote areas continue to report high rates of smoking where 47 per cent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were currently daily smokers, compared to 37 per cent in non-remote areas.

The Australian Indigenous Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre (http://aodknowledgecentre.net.au/) aims to provide the evidence-base for reducing harmful alcohol and other drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including comprehensive information on tobacco use.

There are three key sections for accessing tobacco information on the Knowledge Centre; the topic specific section on tobacco, tobacco resources in the Workers’ portal and the Tackling Indigenous Smoking portal.

The tobacco topic section provides up-to-date information on addressing tobacco use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with areas that cover:

  • national and state policies and strategies that in relation to smoking;
  • initiatives that address tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • health promotion and health practice resources including videos, guidelines, brochures, toolkits and factsheets;
  • a list of publications on topics such as smoking and pregnancy, prevention and treatment, and health impacts; and
  • a workforce section with upcoming conferences, workshops and events, courses and training information, and job and funding opportunities.
The AOD worker’s portal
Tobacco section of the AOD Knowledge Centre

The AOD worker’s portal also provides tobacco information, with a focus on content that workers might need to know to successfully work with communities and people on tobacco cessation. The information on the worker’s portal is written in plain language, and includes key facts, practical tools for assessment and treatment, health promotion resources, publications and programs.

‘Tips for workers’ provides key information that alcohol and other drug workers, or anyone working in this area, might need to know when addressing tobacco use with their clients, such as: harms from smoking tobacco; extent of tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; brief intervention; medications to support quitting; and how to support clients.

In recognition of the challenges faced by those working in this sector, there’s also a section in the worker’s portal on ‘Taking care of yourself’ which provides specific information on reducing worker burnout and stress, as well as resources and tips for managing this in day-to-day work.

The Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) portal was developed by the National Best Practice Unit for TIS, and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Despite being developed specifically for TIS Grant Recipients, the portal contains a wealth of information for anyone who is working on tackling smoking in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, including:

  • the Tackling Indigenous Smoking Resource and Information Centre – with information on planning a program, activities that work to tackle smoking, resources that work when addressing smoking, and how to determine how well your activities work;
  • workforce information such as job opportunities and funding sources; and
  • a wide range of videos that cover topics such as ‘how to quit smoking’ and ‘smoking related diseases’.

All of the content on the Knowledge Centre is free to access. If you have any tobacco information you’d like to share with us, then please contact us via email at aodknowledgecentre@healthinfonet.org.au.

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